The History of the Hingham Police Department

Brian Edgar Aiguier

Patrolman, Hingham Police Dept. (Retired)

From the inception of the settlement with The Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633 through 1998.

The Town of Hingham was established on September 2, 1635. It was the twelfth town to be founded in Massachusetts. It has a total of 22.5 square miles of land. This coastal community is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on its north side, Hull, Cohasset, and Scituate on its west side, Norwell and Rockland on its southern boundaries, and Weymouth on its eastern side. The town is located approximately fifteen miles from Boston.

According to modern day historian, John P. Richardson, Hingham may have had settlers earlier than 1633. Numerous coastal settlements from Cape Anne to Wessagusset (Weymouth), some established by fishermen from England's southwest, failed in the 1620s and stragglers had moved down the coast as far as Conohasset (Cohasset) and Nantasket (Hull).Places along Hingham's shoreline from Martin's cove to Otis Hill, Walton's Cove, and Tucker's Swamp, preserve Southwest English names.
Hingham was first named Bare Cove by its inhabitants, and the first indication on record shows that Bare Cove was taxed by the colonial government (England) in 1634. Hingham (Bare Cove) was one of the original 12 towns to be part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
The only concerted "invasion" of East Anglians, arrived from the ship Diligent in 1638. This was when Robert Peck of Hingham, England, a minister, and fugitive from Episcopal persecution, sought refuge and brought twenty-plus families with him, In 1640, there were approximately 130 families, consisting of a population of approximately 700.
Records show that the first Constable, who also served as the first town clerk was Joseph Andrews. He was sworn in at the May Court in 1635. Prior to this a Watch and Ward was set up. The system of the Watch and Ward was originally set up in Boston in 1630, and was formally organized in a meeting on February 27, 1636, at a Boston Town Meeting. As in England, all young men over 16 years of age were required to take their turn on watch duty without pay. Their major duty was the protection of property from fire, rather than the suppression of crime.

As much as 60 percent of the original settlers of the town moved from Hingham, before their deaths. Disenchantment with the way the town was being run by local officials, religious-political differences with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with vast numbers relocating to the Plymouth Bay Colony, brought the population down to 400 inhabitants. By 1647, the number of males over the age of 21 was only 75. New settlers over the coming years was slow, but sure.

As late as 1768, only 25 barristers (lawyers) were in the entire province. Lawsuits were unpopular, issues were handled politically rather than legally. The newspaper, the Salem Mercury reported in 1789, that there had only been one jury trial between 1740 and 1789, and only one law suit in the prior six years. Also, the office of Constable, that symbol of legal authority, was hard to fill. Nobody wanted it. Rich men bought their way out, and others sought to be excused, This trend of avoiding the Constable's job increased after 1720, and definitely rose after 1740. It is believed that this trend marked a weakening of community responsibility and solidarity. Family and church control were breaking down.

By 1763, the alarming increase in drunkenness and disorderly conduct led to the forming of a committee to recommend remedies. There were approximately 15 inntaverns in Hingham, and the committee opted for only five. The proposal was rejected by the town. The harbor area was a center for sea-faring men and a few "disreputable and stealthy" women. Many taverns were located nearby, and incidents flourished.

Massachusetts was virtually in a state of war for forty-six of the seventy-five years between her mother country (England), France and Spain, between the years 1689 and 1763. These wars were often fought at sea by warships and privateers bent on disrupting the enemy's West Indian trade. Canada was still French and could threaten the coastal settlements. The French made alliances with disaffected and dispossessed Indians to harass English colonies, which included the.settlement in Hingham.

Hingham men served up and down the coast and on the Canadian border. In the 1740s there was war with France and Canada. In 1756, the French and Indian War took place. Hingham men again took up the "battle cry" and enlisted their services for Canada.- Roughly 224 men served on the town quotas during the 1740s and 1750s, at a time when adult males in Hingham numbered no more than 700. It finally ended with the British victories at Quebec and Montreal, and the Treaty of Paris in 1763 established British control over North America. Hingham men had fought and died as loyal Englishmen. Soon after this victory, England appeared as a new enemy by taxing and attempting to control New England Trade. This began the labor pains of a new nation's birth, which encompassed the settlers of Hingham.

The town's system of poor relief was traditional and modest, handled by the Overseers of the Poor. A small part of the system consisted of the poor farm and almshouse, the old brick building of 1833 off Beal Street near the Back River, today's Project Turnabout. Those in total poverty, often elderly, some with incapacitating illnesses, were admitted here, along with thieves, incendiaries, and town drunks, until the Lock-Up opened in 1874. The almshouse averaged 15 to 18 occupants.

The years after the Civil War, inventions abounded that would revolutionize daily life. Hingham residents expected safety, comfort and convenience. The more they got, the more they expected. Such innovations as a safe water system for consumption was developed. The Board of Health struggled to control contagious diseases. The demand for safety in the streets was met with the arrival of electric lighting, but it also stirred debates over hiring policeman. The telephone brought not only convenience, but added the safety of rapid communication. Also a brand new and efficient Fire Department, aided by hydrants and electric alarms, made some progress in the control of fires. These systems came to Hingham between 1880 and 1889, and were all linked to each other. However, there was no Police Department formed and no hiring of police officers to maintain law and order. The Constable's task was ever so burdensome, and he still wore many hats.

Through 1880 to 1887 there was much concern over the safety issue, but the town was not ready to pay policemen for ensuring peace and tranquility. Incidents such as loafing at Broad Bridge, nude bathing at the mill pond, vandalism in the North Ward, consisting of unhinging and destroying gates, trampling gardens, throwing stones at the windows of houses, storefronts, and factories, damaging street signs and lanterns, stealing fruit and hens, burglarizing homes and stores, were logged as offenses committed. In 1880, there were two night "policemen" on duty. The records reflect them as policemen, however, no police department had been organized as of yet. Their salary was $2.50 per night. However after a savings bank got burglarized twice, the treasurer of the bank, moved the town to reduce their salary to $1.50 a night. In 1885, the motion was finally approved and the town found themselves without any night "policemen".

In 1886, the town was persuaded to spend $26.00 on a budget for "policemen", and the following year in 1887, the selectmen were authorized to hire four "policemen". During the 1890s the town saw fit to have eight "policemen" on the payroll, one of them being Washington I. James, who would later become the first police chief.

Chief Washington I James

In 1907, the Town of Hingham had its first organized police department. The Chief of Police was Washington I. James. The site of the police department was at 70 North Street. The foundation exists today as a small parking lot next to a kitchen cabinet store. The building was moved years later and is a residential home, located on Joy Lane, which is off East Street. Underneath, the Chief would put his horse and buggy. Today, the opening, which was in the rear, has been closed with cement block walls and garage doors, and has been an auto repair shop.

Washington Irving James was born in 1851 in the town of Hull, and came from a family who pioneered professional sea rescuing. He was known to many as "Wash" James. During his career as Police Chief, 
Chief James
the streets were considered by many to be more dangerous than they are today. There was a confused mix of trains, street cars, buggies and teams with frightened horses, and the new "terrifying" automobiles. Hingham Square was the thoroughfare to Nantasket Beach because no other road ran along the edge of the harbor as it does today, being Route 3A. As many as eight thousand vehicles might crawl through Hingham Square on a summer day.

Managing traffic outside New North Church during Governor Long's funeral in August 1915, Chief James was knocked down by a horse shying at an auto. The same week two bandits at the lock-up at 70 North Street, beat him on the head with a hammer and escaped. A passing physician picked up the bleeding chief in his auto and they chased the bandits. The chief leaned out of the auto and fired his gun, killing one and capturing the other.

Over the years, Chief James had to contend with strikers, bootleggers, suffragettes, volatile family feuds, gypsies and the Klu Klux Klansmen.  He-is most fondly remembered by oldsters for meeting the midnight theater train from Boston and seeing his tipsy townsmen safely home.  

Town records show that he resigned from the police department on December 3 1, 1927. At his death in 1928, hundreds filled St. Paul's Church on North Street, for the funeral of this man. It was stated that he was a man small in stature, but large in the life of Hingham. No more would "Wash" be patrolling the streets of Hingham in his horse drawn buggy, with his constant companion and friend, his dog beside him.

Chief Harold A. Macfarlane

On January 1, 1928, Harold A. MacFarlane became Hingham's next Police Chief.  He was a Hingham resident, but was not a member of the Hingham Police Department previously. He came from the ranks of the Massachusetts State Police and had achieved the rank of corporal. While in the State Police some of the duties that he performed was driver and bodyguard to then Governor Allen. Chief MacFarlane implemented many innovative changes with the police department. The compliment of officers were at 18 strong at this time, an all-time high. Replaced by the horse and buggy were motorcycles, and two-way radio equipped cruisers. An ambulance was also purchased to transport the sick and injured.
Chief Macfarlane
A resident of Hingham, Peter Bradley, acknowledged as a primary influence on the development of the Arabian horse in America, donated a triangle piece of land at the intersection of Route 3A and Lincoln Street, for the erection of a new building for the-police department to be housed in.

With the advent of the automobile and the motorcycle, also came accidents with not only other motorized vehicles, but also with pedestrians. Speeding became a new crime for the police to pursue and stop law breakers. Those that mixed alcohol with their driving added new offenses to the dockets.

Chief MacFarlane also implemented new levels of rank. The Department was to consist of one Chief, one Captain, two Sergeants, and patrolmen.  Chief Harold A. MacFarlane served on the Hingham Police Department for 26 years, He retired from police service on December 31, 1953.

Chief Oscar P. Beck

Oscar P. Beck assumed the reigns of Chief of Police for the Town of Hingham on January 1, 1954. Oscar Beck was a Sergeant on the force before being promoted. He served on the police department for a total of 33 years. During his tour of duty as Chief of Police, the motorcycles were still in use. Patrol cars with two way radios were still employed and upgraded as the new models arrived on the market. There were two walking beats that had been implemented earlier by Chief MacFarlane, and this tradition continued under Chief Beck's watch. One beat was in Hingham Square, and the other in the Cove area, and both beats housed an assortment of business merchants.
Chief Beck
On April 30, 1963 he retired and ran for the position of Town Selectman, he won the position and served for many terms, always being re-elected. Oscar Beck's total service to the Town of Hingham, when he retired from Selectman was 50 years. His son, John Beck, was also a police officer for the Town of Hingham, and retired as a patrolman. Oscar Beck's son-in-law, William Schmitt served on the police department and served for a period of time as Acting-Chief, William Schmitt and retired with the rank of Captain.

Chief Raymond C. Campbell

The fourth police chief to take office was Raymond C. Campbell. Chief Campbell rose through the ranks from patrolman at age 25, Sergeant at 29, Detective Sergeant at 33, Captain at 37, and Chief at age 38. Chief Campbell took office on May 1, 1963.
During his term as Chief the compliment of officers grew to 43. The positions on the department reflected one chief, one captain, three lieutenants, five sergeants, two detectives (from the newly formed detective division), and thirty one patrolmen. Two female record clerks were also hired. The first female officer was hired, but resigned after a short stay. The ambulance service which was run by the police department shifted over to the Hingham Fire Department. A joint effort by Police Chief Campbell and Fire Chief Warren Lincoln, brought about advanced first aid training to all police officers and firefighters, also EMT training for the firefighters, since they would be responding with the ambulance now. Uniforms changed from gray to light blue with dark blue epaulets, the police badge was redesigned, the police arm patch was redesigned by the Chief and 
Chief Campbell
his Captain, Walter Bartlett. The weapons carried by the officers went from a .38 caliber revolver to a.357 magnum revolver. Training on the handgun and the shotgun was done downstairs in the police department pistol range, as the Chief was an avid gun enthusiast. Portable radios were made available for officers on walking beats. Police call boxes at strategic areas of town were still being used, and had gone back as early as Chief MacFarlane. One located in the Square, one in the Cove, one in West Hingham, and one in South Hingham at Queen Anne's Corner. A training academy for police officers was set up by the county for all recruits. Before, those coming into the police ranks spent one month in Framingham, Massachusetts with the State Police for training, and lived in tents. During Chief Campbell's tour of duty as Chief, the Plymouth County Commissioners and the Chiefs of Police for the neighboring towns formed the Plymouth County Radio Committee. From this committee sprung up towers in Hanson (High St) Judge's Hill in Norwell, and Middleborough. Better reception was now being transmitted and received by the police units to headquarters. Also this same committee helped to start the BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation), a county operated facility to aid the surrounding towns with investigative services when needed.
Chief Campbell had a reputation as a crack shot with his handgun. He was timed on the "quick draw" officially, with a western holster, and was faster than the fastest "quick draw" stuntmen/actors in Hollywood. He was not only quick, but accurate, hitting a card, with only the thin edge facing him. This was documented with the Boston Globe, in the 1950s, with a story and pictures.
He retired from the police department in November of 1981. After retirement, he started a security company. He is an advocate of political issues and could often be seen during election-time carrying a sign for a candidate or an issue.

Chief William T. Cushing

The fifth Police Chief for the Hingham Police Department was William T. Cushing. He was appointed Chief, from the rank of Lieutenant, at a Selectmen's meeting on June 28, 1983, which would take effect on July 1, 1983. The Selectmen commented at the meeting that he was the only person taking the exam from the department to PASS the Chief s exam. He topped the Captain's exam and was also commended by the Selectmen for this. At this time Acting Chief Schmitt went back to Captain. As soon as Chief Cushing took office, he started rehabbing inside structures of the police department building, including the garage where new spring- loaded-automatic doors were installed, that could be opened and closed by the dispatcher in headquarters, by merely pressing a button. He had a number of projects lined up, including sweeping changes with personnel. This would all be cut short when Chief Cushing was stricken with a heart attack while at the station house one morning. He died on October 5th, of 1983. He was in office for a little over two months and died at the age of 57.
Chief Cushing

Chief Joachim-Ingo Borowski

Before the end of 1983 came to a close, Acting Chief Joachim-Ingo Borowski was made Chief of Police. Chief Borowski had come up through the ranks from patrolman, to Sergeant, to Lieutenant, and then Chief Also being a Marine Veteran, he was a Marine Reservist at South Weymouth Naval Air Station and attained the coveted positions as "Gunny Sergeant" and "Base Sergeant Major". Before he retired from the Marine Reserve, he was involved with Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, which was commanded by General "Storm'n Norman" Schwarzkopf Chief Joachim-Ingo Borowski, is currently the Chief for the Town of Hingham.
While Chief Borowski was away with Operation Desert Storm, the town voted to take the position of Chief out of Civil Service for the next person. This seems to be a trend that is sweeping New England, usually with three year contracts.
Chief Borowski